12 Jun 2013 -
Last week we gave you a walkthrough of our decision-making process while developing an update of the classic map de_mirage. One thing we didn’t give you, though, was the actual map.
Today, the wait is over: Mirage is here! Jump into an official Casual, Competitive, or Deathmatch server and check it out.
Also, today’s update includes a new tool to help you practice throwing flash and smoke grenades in all of our maps. While you’re on a private server enter “sv_grenade_trajectory 1” in the console, and you’ll get to see the visual arc that grenades follow across the map.
Lastly, Operation Payback passes are on sale for just $0.99 from now until Monday. Get access to a diverse set of community maps, and match up with the rest of the CS:GO community through official Valve matchmaking servers. Now is the perfect time to play some great maps while supporting the CS:GO community.
We hope you enjoy the de_mirage update and Payback sale, and get some practice time in with those grenade lobs. As always, your feedback is incredibly important to us; be sure to let us know what you think of everything!
7 Jun 2013 -
Since we launched Counter-Strike back in 2000, Mirage has remained one of the most popular competitive maps next to Dust2. In short, it’s a classic, and we’d be nuts to tinker with the core gameplay of something that already works so well.
However, let’s be honest: Visually, Mirage hasn’t aged as well as some of Counter-Strike’s other classic maps. Put simply, it could really use a new coat of paint. But it was important to us not to fix anything that wasn’t broken. Over the course of Mirage’s update, when we weren’t playtesting the old map, the CS:GO team was immersing itself in demos, movies, and streams about it. We wanted to have a detailed and comprehensive understanding of how the map was played on a competitive level, so that we could achieve a specific goal: to improve the readability and graphics of Mirage without losing any of the gameplay, jumps, corners, timings and balance that has made it so incredibly playable for three generations of Counter-Strike players.
Below, we’ve chosen a few examples that highlight some of the updates we made to Mirage, and our thought process behind them.
Above is a good example of our attempt to improve the map’s overall readability. You’ll notice in the classic Mirage map, most of the wall textures had a dark and noisy bottom half – right at player height. In most lighting conditions, this had the potential to reduce enemy readability. For the updated Mirage, we went with lower contrast, less noise and a brighter palette to make player silhouettes easier to identify against the background.
You’ll also notice that in the image above, the boxes on the left that lead to balcony have been changed to better match the theme of the map. However, the changes are purely cosmetic: the dimensions are the same and the gameplay hasn’t changed.
A common complaint we receive from players is that there are a lot of spaces in classic maps that just feel too tight. In Mirage, this was particularly pronounced at the entrance to A from CT spawn. So we widened that entrance to improve the flow of the game while making the space more interesting to move through.
Here, after noticing time and time again that CTs could cover the terrorist apartment balcony from behind the box with very little risk to themselves, we made CTs a bit more exposed while also making the area more accessible. Previously, this was a crouch-jump hop onto the boxes to cover bombsite A. The stairs behind the platform were added to make the area a more viable option for taking/retaking the site, while also making it a slightly more dangerous place to be.
Above is an example where the original geometry of the classic map has been retained in order to maintain the same peeking angles.
In middle, it was very important that the boxes players use to boost into the sniper’s nest stayed the way they were. We updated the art to be more in-line with the theme of the map, but as with the boxes at Bombsite B, the gameplay remains the same.
In the classic version of Mirage, CT snipers had an easier time of staying concealed in the sniper’s nest spot. In the updated version, snipers now silhouette better against the back wall.
Lastly, we also noticed that the underpass tunnel above right was largely neglected by some players, due to it being too concealed. We brightened up the entrance and wrapped the stairs around the corner. As a result, it now gets a lot more attention.
Previously, Ts needed to do two box jumps to enter the main route to B from T spawn. These boxes made the path to B via the apartments less accessible and kept this route from reading like the main route that it is. Preserving the time it takes the Ts to reach B via apartments, we made the entrance easier to navigate and more obvious to use, while not disturbing the established balance.
Coming back to the previous point about space, above is another example of where we took the opportunity to give players a bit more room to navigate in a way that did not affect gameplay in any significant way.
As you might expect, we’ve been collecting data throughout the development process to measure how players approach the original de_mirage (for example, see the heatmap below). Looking forward, we’ll be carefully monitoring these statistics to ensure that the same classic gameplay has been retained in the updated version.
We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our process. We’ll be releasing the map next week, so be sure to keep an eye out for it. As always, we look forward to the feedback we get from a wider audience when we do.
29 May 2013 -
First off, we’d like to thank the good folks in the CS:GO community who’ve volunteered to be Investigators in our Overwatch beta experiment. For those of you who haven’t heard about it yet, Overwatch gives the CS:GO community the power to report, review and give temporary bans to consistently disruptive “problem” players, and it’s been encouragingly successful. (Check out the Overwatch FAQ for details.)
So far, Overwatch Investigators have found evidence of disruptive behavior in 90% of highly-reported cases, with the decision being unanimous in the vast majority of cases. In addition to our standard test cases, we recently added demos of pro CS:GO players (specifically NiP and Quantic) to the test pool. Every single test case has been correctly dismissed as “Insufficient Evidence”, with no false convictions made.
In other news, you may have noticed that we opened the Steam Trading Card beta a few weeks ago. Since then, over 20,000 CS:GO badges have been crafted from over 120,000 trading cards! For those of you in the Steam Trading Card beta that who’ve been helping us by participating, thank you.
Today we’re updating the trading card art and badges to their final forms. Here’s a look at the new Steam badges. Let us know what you think.
16 May 2013 -
Want to give CS:GO a shot? Play for FREE starting now through Sunday at 1pm Pacific Time! Now is the perfect time to grab your friends and bring them into the game. Stick around after the weekend is over – CS:GO and Operation Payback are both on sale at 50% off until Monday.
For all of you new players, CS:GO includes a ton of new game modes, characters, maps, weapons, and more. If that sounds a bit overwhelming, here are some tips to get you started:
First, if you’ve never played a Counter-Strike game before, check out the Weapons Course where you’ll learn about the core concepts of the game. Even seasoned veterans should try the special timed course at the end.
Ready to test your skills? Head over to the Arms Race or Deathmatch, fast-paced modes where you can practice each weapon without worrying too much about objectives.
Ok, now that you’ve got the weapons down, it’s time for some teamwork! Head over to Demolition mode for quick, intense action where both teams fight over a central bombsite. Or, if you’re in the mood for some classic Counter-Strike action, drop in to a Casual match and practice some new strategies.
Want a challenge? Jump into Competitive matchmaking, where you’ll play a full best-of-30 5 vs. 5 match. Matchmaking will place you in matches with players at your skill level, and you’ll receive a personal ranking once you’ve won 10 matches. Competitive matches can take a while, so make sure you’ve got enough time before you commit to a match!
Enjoy the free weekend, and don’t forget to pick up CS:GO and an Operation Payback pass before the sale ends on Monday!
1 May 2013 -
Still haven’t gotten your Operation Payback pass? Passes are 50% off until the end of the week!
As you may recall, CS:GO players generate a ton of data. This week we focused on grenade data, and saw that players of all skill levels were able to use flashbangs effectively. Today’s update includes an experiment: in Classic Competitive matches, you can purchase two flashbangs and four grenades total.
In additional data-driven news, we’ve modified several weapons. The full list is in the notes, but as always the best way to evaluate a change is to play. Give them a shot, and let us know what you think in the forums!
In light of the grenade changes in today’s update, now is the perfect time to check out all of the great community-generated guides. New players should head over to this introduction to flashbangs, written by Todd ‘Anger’ Williams from Curse.